[Tweeters] Columbia Basin birding - Day two, April 9th

Tim Brennan tsbrennan at hotmail.com
Fri Apr 11 13:43:19 PDT 2014

Hey all,

On Wednesday morning, after staying the night in Ritzville, I made my way up to the town of Lincoln at the end of Redwyne Canyon Road. The drive there was absolutely gorgeous, with the stars sparkling completely unencumbered by city lights. I went straight to the end of Sterling Valley Road - stopping once or twice to enjoy the stars and to try my hunches on places that looked like they should have some owls - no luck on owls at all, including the time spent along Sterling Valley Road with a focused search for Western Screech-Owls.

Before the sun even rose on that little corner of Lincoln County, the birds were making a lot of noise, including numerous Wild Turkeys and Say's Phoebes. The woodsy stuff down on the Columbia kept me thinking that I'd finally get a junco in that county, but I had no luck! Travelling along the road following the river, the basalt cliffs held Canyon Wrens, Prairie Falcon, and recently arrived White-throated Swifts. Mixed in with the robins in the morning chorus was a single Townsend's Solitaire.

Heading up Welsh Creek Road, I chose a really good spot to stop, (as seems to happen juuuuust often enough to keep us all birding! :) ) I ended up getting a Ruffed Grouse drumming from the woods nearby, and also a Red-naped Sapsucker - heard first by its drumming, then its squeal, before flying to the tree right above my car. Continuing from here around Miles-Creston Road towards Hawk Canyon Campground, I added Western Bluebirds and Hairy Woodpecker. At the campground itself, I made the little walk to the falls to find the resident American Dipper bathing itself in the calm water near the falls. Heading up Hawk Canyon, I ran into a lot of good birds that I'd been missing in other trips to Lincoln (it helps to bird in an honest- to-goodness forested area!), including Mountain Chickadee, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Steller's Jay, Varied Thrush, Golden-crowned and Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Townsend's Warbler and Cassin's Finch.

The Rearden Ponds were my next stop, and proved to make an interesting point to me that morning, as there were 9857408953 ducks, coots and geese on the ponds, but not a single new species for me (lots of scaup, buffleheads, ruddy ducks, and even some canvasback and redheads mixed in), but I met another birder at the ponds who led me to the pond off of the highway to Edwall, where there was suposed to be a Common Teal - here I added Northern Pintail, Cinnamon Teal and Green-winged Teal, all packed into a little pond! Wilson's Snipe did flyovers, as did a single Turkey Vulture.

I made a bee-line for Sprague from there, where I had the troubles I usually have on that lake. There are a lot of birds on the lake, but I'm not exactly sure where to scope from. I didn't find any unusual birds on the lake, outside of some Greater Scaup on the Adams end. With that, I went to Cow Lake (more duckies, some Avocets, and a pair of Bald Eagles), before making my second failed partridge run of the day. I forgot to mention the earlier one - near Mondovi, but I made my second attempt on the way to Washtucna (where I actually did not stop!). Neither one was fruitful, and I am not sure if I intend on seeking out the elusive little suckers anymore. I've found them a couple times, but never by actually trying to find them, so I'll plan accordingly!

I finished my day in Othello/Potholes, where I missed Burrowing Owl, found a Long-billed Curlew in a field north of Othello, got a Northern Shrike on McMannamon road, and two counties worth of Sandhill Cranes before spending the night in Ephrata.

Will wrap up with the third post tomorrow!

-Tim Brennan

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